Good day for Irish consumer companies as share prices rise

Bulmers Cider

Irish consumer stocks C&C and Grafton surged strongly as they announced a new executive team and better-than-expected trading respectively.Bulmers cider maker C&C shot up 4.4% after it announced it had poached the boss of Heineken’s UK division to be its next chief executive and had further freshened its executive leadership team with the appointment of a new chief financial officer.

C&C – which also makes Tennent’s lager and Five Lamps beer – said David Forde will join as CEO from Heineken UK at the latest in early 2021.

C&C’s strategy director Patrick McMahon will succeed Jonathan Solesbury as chief financial officer from the beginning of September.

Prior to heading Heineken’s British operations, Mr Forde spent four years – from 2009 – as head of Heineken Ireland.

Shares in Woodie’s DIY retail owner Grafton Group, meanwhile, jumped just over 4% on the back of it reporting strong demand across its retail and builders merchants businesses, with trading in June being more resilient than anticipated.

Due to the Covid-19 disruption, however, Grafton – which generates the vast bulk of its group revenues from its UK builders’ merchants division – said group revenue for the six months to the end of June was down by 19.4% at £1.06bn (€1.2bn).

In Ireland, Grafton reopened its Chadwicks merchants chain and its Woodie’s DIY retail chain on May 18. The group said Chadwicks saw average daily like-for-like revenue growth of over 7% in June, while the initial surge in demand at Woodie’s continued “at a moderating pace”, helping to establish a new monthly revenue record for the retailer.

Grafton CEO Gavin Slark said the group remains in a strong financial position and is emerging stronger from the Covid crisis and remains "well-positioned for future growth".

"While we face many challenges in the months ahead, we are encouraged by the group’s trading and financial performance in the month of June which represented an important milestone on the road to recovery," he said. 

Grafton has kept its financial guidance for the current year suspended, given continuing uncertainty surrounding the Covid-19 impact on its main markets, but said its liquidity position remains strong, with cash and lending facilities adding up to nearly £660m as of the end of last month.